Immature zygotic embryos of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) produce somatic embryos when cultured on medium supplemented with a cytokinin as the sole source of exogenous growth regulators. The timing of the induction phase and subsequent morphogenic events have been well characterized in previous work. We address here the question of the role of endogenous indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), since auxins are known to have a crucial role in the induction of somatic embryogenesis in many other culture and regeneration systems. The fact that in the sunflower system no exogenous auxin is required for the induction of somatic embryos makes this system very suitable for the study of the internal dynamics of IAA. We used an immunocytochemical approach to visualize IAA distribution within the explants before, during and after the induction phase. IAA accumulated transiently throughout cultured embryos during the induction phase. The detected signal was not uniform but certain tissues, such as the root cap and the root meristem, accumulated IAA in a more pronounced manner. IAA accumulation was not restricted to the reactive zone but the kinetics of endogenous variations strikingly mimic the pulse of IAA that is usually provoked by exogenous IAA application. The direct evidence presented here indicates that an endogenous auxin pulse is indeed among the first signals leading to the induction of somatic embryogenesis.
- Indole-3-acetic acid
- Somatic embryogenesis